The Hurry-Up: Al Washington Getting More Comfortable and Hitting Stride As a Recruiter in Year Two, Group Recruiting at Core of Ohio State's Success

By Zack Carpenter on May 6, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Al Washington

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Washington more comfortable in year two

For the first time since 2016, when he was in the last year of a four-year run as a Boston College assistant, Al Washington and his family did not have to move to a new house at the conclusion of a regular season.

After one-year stints at Cincinnati and Michigan in 2017 and 2018, respectively, Washington is in his second offseason with the Buckeyes. Now that he’s fully entrenched in the program for a second consecutive year, Washington says that continuity, comfortability and familiarity are now giving him an easier pathway to do what he does best on the recruiting trail – be genuine.

“For me, personally, I’ve had a unique experience. Every year I’ve been at a different place,” Washington said via teleconference two weeks ago. “You can educate yourself on what a different school can offer a player or a student-athlete. You can educate them on facilities, different exposures, but it’s hard to educate them on the actual program – the people that are living and breathing the program – because you just got there.

“I think my time last year, when I first got to Ohio State, to be honest it was difficult from where I was coming from. A month earlier, I was talking to a kid from one school, and a month later I’m at a new school. That’s not necessarily the most natural thing. Not knowing the full class, that’s difficult.”

He has had more than a year to get to know the team, and he says he truly feels part of that team now. That he no longer feels like an outsider. Going into the spring and summer having a clearer picture of the small-scale day-to-day operations, plus the big-picture goals the program has, Washington can be more authentic in detailing Ohio State to high school players.

“If I’m recruiting an offensive lineman, I can tell them with everything in my soul that he’s not gonna play for a better coach,” Washington said. “I can look that kid in the eye and mean it. And people pick that up. People are smart. They can read people. You can sense those things. It’s the same thing talking to a tight end.”

“A month earlier, I was talking to a kid from one school, and a month later I’m at a new school. That’s not necessarily the most natural thing.”– Al Washington on the difficulties of recruiting while jumping from different jobs

Washington is ranked No. 12 in the national recruiter rankings for the 2021 class, being the leader recruiter of Reid Carrico and Jaylen Johnson, and he had a big hand in the recruitments of Jack Sawyer and TreVeyon Henderson – a relationship established during Washington’s days at Michigan and his connections in Virginia. 

He was also instrumental in building a relationship with Tegra Tshabola (Washington was the one who offered the in-state offensive lineman in November) and as the lead recruiter for C.J. Hicks, and it feels like he is really starting to hit his stride as a recruiter at Ohio State.

He was not alone in those recruitments, however, and he is the first to bring that up. He says an all-hands-on-deck strategy is what makes Ohio State recruiting run like a well-oiled machine.

“We do a lot of group recruiting here, which I think is probably the reason why we do well as a staff – because we work together,” Washington said. “I’m in the process right now with a couple players that me and Kevin (Wilson) are involved in. I can’t name names or anything, but I can tell you this – you’re far more effective when you can speak from experience as opposed to what you read. 

“I’m not theorizing. I’m talking with experience, and that’s different. It creates a better vibe, if you will, when you’re talking to young student-athletes and families. That’s the biggest difference, for me, from year one to year two.”

More on group recruiting

Jakailin Johnson had been rumored to potentially be on the verge of committing in November or December, but when Jeff Hafley left for Boston College, those flames quickly died down.

Hafley’s departure put players like Johnson in a bit of a holding pattern, as everyone waited to find out if the rumors of Kerry Coombs’ return were going to prove true. 

When asked at December’s Fiesta Bowl media day if there were any recruiting concerns without a defensive backs coach in place, assistant secondary coach Matt Barnes shook off that notion – and the reason why brings us back to what Washington said above.

“I know we’re gonna go out and get a great secondary coach as well, but we recruit here as a staff,” Barnes told Eleven Warriors at the time. “I’ll certainly be involved, but depending on where they’re from and who has a relationship with a particular player, our entire staff will be involved. And Ryan Day is probably the best recruiter in the country.”

Fast forward to May 6, and the Buckeyes continue to hold a huge lead for the No. 1 recruiting class in America. At the core of that success is a staff that seems to be as well-synchronized as any in the country – and one that seems to genuinely get along with each other.

“I have just been so excited to watch and be a part of the way business is being done.”– Kerry Coombs

After the Buckeyes had landed their 17th commitment in the class just two days prior from Jantzen Dunn – who was the latest example of a group recruiting effort from Coombs, Barnes and Day – Coombs was on a teleconference in April enthusiastically describing what makes it all go.

“You get with a recruit with a bunch of people that are like that and are having fun, they love the kid, they work really hard and really well,” Coombs said. “We’re all recruiting – a bunch of us are recruiting on Sunday night at 9 o’clock. There’s a bunch of effort being put into it, there’s a lot of thought being put into it. … I have just been so excited to watch and be a part of the way business is being done. It is a fantastic thing, and I really have never seen anything like it.”

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